When Sandy Peasnall realised that Valentine’s Day was on a Tuesday — a day she and Shantelle Sutton minister at the school assembly at Walmer West Primary School in Port Elizabeth — she thought it might be a good idea to give every child in the school a chocolate on the day.
“But the Holy Spirit didn’t agree. He said to give each child a bible,” said Sandy, who admits to being initially shocked at the challenge of getting hold of 400 bibles within a week.
But she mentioned the idea to Shantelle and “she was so excited”.
And so the bible challenge was on.
The two women shared the idea at their church, Oasis Family Church, on the following Wednesday and Sunday. One of the ministers at the church managed to source a new testament bible from a Christian bookshop at a fraction of the normal price and people contributed generously towards the cost.
Enough raised for 1 000 bibles
Within a week they raised enough money for 1 000 bibles — 600 more than they needed for the school. They did, however, have to wait for the bibles to arrive, and so they had to give them to the children a week later, on February 21.
At a Wednesday night meeting at church last week, Sandy mentioned that she was concerned that while the Grade 3 to Grade 7 pupils were all getting bibles, the youngest children, who could not read yet, were not getting anything. She said she was thinking of photostatting a few pictures to give to the little ones to colour-in. A woman at the church, who owns a printing business, spoke up and undertook to make up colouring-in books for the 250 Grade 1 and Grade 2 children.
It was a joy to hand out the special Valentine’s Day gifts from Jesus to the children on Tuesday, said Sandy. But what really made her day — and made her cry — was when she drove past the school a few hours later when the children were leaving school.
“They were coming out with their bags packed. But all of them were carrying their little blue bibles in their hands. It really meant something to them,” she said.
Sandy was part of a Burn 24/7 team which organised 40 hours of non-stop worship at Walmer West Primary in 2012, 40 years after she was a pupil at the school herself. Since the beginning of this year she and Shantelle have been conducting bible teaching and worship sessions at the school twice a week.
With the Valentine’s Day bible handout behind them and enough cash in hand to buy another 600 bibles, the two women say that the bible challenge will go on. They will concentrate on giving bibles to children at schools where they believe most children do not have their own bibles. They have the next school in mind. They also plan to give out bibles in the children’s home languages.
Sandy said that if anybody would like to get involved in the bible challenge they could contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org